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hi guys, i have a question about Test Kilns

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I'm looking at test kilns to test glazes, clays, and firing schedules. Our production kilns are Skutt 1231 PK Single Phase kilns... We fire to ^6, producing functional wares. What sort of features, volume, size, mobility (we are tight on space), element upgrades, would you suggest we consider? Also, it seems like we should stick with Skutt as the production kilns are of the same make (is this a valid assumption?) last our enviro vent system is maxed out with the two 1231's.


Is it wise to swap out the venting from the 1231 to the new test kiln or is this wrought with peril? Should we purchase a new venting system? Can we run a hose out the window, or do we need to run duct throughout the wall? One of my potters seems to think there no need to actively vent a test kiln, passive is fine, but this would vent into the primary workspace.


Your expertise and thoughts would be most helpful...

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If you're talking about a little 1 cubic foot or less test kiln, then you probably won't need to vent it unless it's in a very small room or you're firing something extra toxic like lusters. What brand you get doesn't matter, as long as it has a digital controller you'll be fine. In general, a full size controller is more user friendly than the 3 button models, but they all work just fine. Test kilns last forever. The small diameter means there's very little wear and tear on the bricks due to shifting, and you won't be banging them up with the shelves like in a big kiln.

The key to getting successful tests from a small kiln is to program a cooling cycle that mimics the cooling cycle of your big kiln, or program the exact same cooling cycle in both the test kiln and the big kilns. Test kilns cool very quickly, which totally messes up the tests. A simple way to go would be to crash cool to 2100F, then cool at 175/hr down to 1500F.

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